Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog

Some of what we do as writers is take part in the world so that we will have bits to bite about.  On Wednesday last, I got my face poked by a thousand needles (actually only 12) and could only think about telling the story.

I had a coupon.  Oh, the things we do for coupons!

My car parked, I walked a block to find the acupuncture place.  On a rejuvenated street of houses turned into eclectic shops, I walked through the wrought iron gates, down the long and wide, leaf-strewn walkway, and up the steps to my destination.  The name, which has been changed to protect the not-so-innocent, was stenciled in small letters on the glass of the old-fashioned double doors. Lickety Split.  Inside, the walls were covered with shelves, all full to overflowing with bits and jars and wee books and eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog–you get the reference.

The floor creaked as I walked to the counter and the older woman behind it. Friendly, she was, at least I think so.  She kept muttering and smiling as she lifted and looked, finally finding a clip board.

“Fill this out, please.”  She smiled and I looked for a chair.  There were none.  I stood and started to fill out the health history which was about ten pages.  Partway through, I was led to a room in back where I could sit and finish.  It took me 25 minutes!  Now the people at this shop know more about me than my husband does. And it’s pretty boring.

Back came the woman to tell me she would be doing my facial acupuncture.  Hmm.  I wondered what kind of training she had, but up on the bed I went, closed my eyes and the session started.  What issues did I have that I wanted her to work on?  Well, that was a hard one.  I’m not so much into a zillion creams and facial surgeries, etc.  I remembered a couple of wrinkles at the top of my nose and the obvious lines on my cheeks.  She went to work.

Yes, those microscopic needles hurt when they went in, but only for a second.  After she had all twelve placed, and a pad covered with a stone over each eye, I could only hear what was happening.  She fussed around for a bit and I realized how helpless I was with my purse hanging across the room on the door.  She left.  Voices beyond the door filtered in as someone else was having some other treatment.  Obviously that woman wasn’t left alone.  The minutes stretched and my lower back tightened.  Why didn’t she put a pillow under my knees?  Soon I had to bend my legs for relief.

I was getting drowsy but raising and lowering my knees every few minutes kept me from drifting off.  How long was she going to leave me here?  The voices outside the room stopped until I heard, “Oh, I almost fell asleep!”  And laughing.  “I’ll come every month,” she said.  Silence again.  Footsteps back and forth outside my door but no one came in.  I tried to see out from under my rocks but only minute bits of light came in.  Why didn’t I just lift them up?  Uncharacteristically, I was doing what I was told. Something ticked near me, maybe a fan in a computer, certainly not a clock.  Bent my legs again.  How long had I been there?

Finally the footsteps outside came back in and my lady slipped the needles out and freed my eyes.  She pulled a huge light over my face.  My eyes closed.  “Take a look” she said, “and see if you can see the difference.”  In the glare I opened my eyes.  And saw a stranger.  Hair held back by a plastic band, face white and puffy in the lamp’s glare, I had a flash of fear.  What had she done to me?  Well, yes, the wrinkles did look improved, I said , as I fought the panic pangs.  She took away the light and the mirror and I was left to get my stuff and meet her at the front.  But she took the mirror!  I couldn’t comb my hair or look at my face now that I was standing.  Out to the counter I went.

A younger woman was working with a laptop on the counter.  She gave me something to hold and I did.  No explanation.  “What is this?” I asked.  “Oh, it’s checking all your information and assessing your body to see if you have issues.” The older lady piped in, “Now we’ll see if you’re as healthy as you think you are.”  A few steps away a young man about 25-30 stood and watched.  His smile was broad when I turned to him and I wondered what his job was there.  After a couple more quite personal and somewhat embarrassing questions asked right in front of everyone, the results were in.

She told me I had 3 really critical issues and asked if I knew that.  Oh, and by the way, they had creams and supplements to fix these things.  I asked for a printout of my data.  No, they DIDN’T HAVE A PRINTER!  So I was just supposed to go on their word and buy the stuff, I guess.  I left.

The first thing I did when I got in the car was check my face in the mirror.  It looked pretty normal, and, yes, the wrinkle was smaller.  How long would that last?  As I drove away I realized how clever she was to give me the mirror only when I was lying down.  Of course my face looked better than when I’m standing in my bathroom and all my wrinkles fall right into place!

Have you ever had a strange experience that you thought might show up in your writing some day?  Consider leaving a comment to tell about it.


13 thoughts on “Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog

  1. Elaine, you are a brave and obedient soul!

    I’ve had many real life influences on my writing, strange, and not so strange. How can we not, as writers, let those experiences in to colour our work?

    Ghost stories from both sides of my family tree have influenced (and appeared in the plot) of my current novel, Homecoming. One of my favourite stories, though, is the tale of how my grandparents met. When I heard it years ago I knew someday I would weave my grandparents meeting into a novel. As it turned out, their meeting provided the foundation for an entire short story. ‘A Love of Reading’ is not my grandparents story, but I needed my main characters to meet and fall in love. My grandparents’ meeting fit into the historical piece seamlessly.


  2. Great story, Elaine! Oh, coupons. I once had a free hair cut and colour via coupon, got home and realized the coupon was only for a free colour with cut and I’d walked out without paying anything. Zoomed back to the salon, explained my mistake to a befuddled receptionist who explained my coupon wasn’t even for that salon. Flabbergasted at how I made this mistake, they said don’t worry about it, gave me it all to me on the house and asked me to bring them business which I did, but then what about my original hair-dresser who I’d been happy with? I was just trying to get that coupon deal! Truly, there is no such thing as a free lunch!


    • I can just see you scurrying back to the salon to correct the error, Sharon! How funny your story is. We once came home to find a completely repaved driveway at our home. Our neighbour told us the story of the workers who got the wrong white house with green trim. And we were the beneficiaries. Never heard from the paving company for payment, though. Good thing as our driveway was newly paved before they came! Sometimes life is just strange.


  3. I rarely use coupons. The reason? I usually remember them after they expire. Or I get them for products I have no use for.

    As to strange circumstances, I once had to have an EMG – an electromyelogram. A big word, that. Well, you talked about acupuncture needles. The needles they stuck into my leg were very thick and once they were shoved deep into my muscle tissue all up and down my leg, they shoot an electric current through it at each entry point. My doctor called it the Chinese torture test. After about a half hour of that (I think she did it in my arm also) she decided she didn’t need to do the other side. Phew! Was I glad! But I had never thought about using it in one of my stories. I’ll have to give that some thought.

    Thanks for another great post.


    • Hi Diane! Yes, you give that experience a new life in one of your stories. And about coupons, I hear you. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve put one in my wallet, only to haul it out months after expiry. How do those coupon people keep them all straight and save hundreds of dollars? Maybe they don’t do anything else and this is their job? Anyhow, thanks for telling your EMG story, Diane.


      • Elaine, I just remembered that at one time my doctor gave me a couple of acupuncture treatments. I had to bring the needles home each time. I had them for a long time, but I think I must have thrown them away as I don’t see them anywhere.


    • Chuckle, chuckle. I hear you, Jen. Do you ever let the Groupon expire before getting around to using it? I’ve done that, I’m sorry to say! Apparently that’s where these companies make so much money. Just like people buying gift cards and they never get used.


  4. I’ve had acupuncture, and it was a weird experience, but not as wyrd as yours! Mine was in a private house and I’d had a personal, raving, recommendation. I went for several visits as it was for a health issue, I didn’t see any improvement and my overly suspicious husband used the word “quack”. The health issue did get better months, maybe a year later. Do things really take that long to take effect????
    I love your story, and its a good thing you are a writer. I expect to see someone in your next book visiting such a shop. It would suit a historical setting nicely!


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